Nicholas Apáti

Nicholas Apáti (also Keszei; Hungarian: Apáti Miklós; died November/December 1366) was a Hungarian prelate in the 14th century, who served as Archbishop of Esztergom from 1358 until his death.

Nicholas Apáti
Archbishop of Esztergom
Apáti Miklós seal 1358.jpg
Seal of Nicholas Apáti, 1358
Term ended1366
PredecessorNicholas Vásári
SuccessorThomas Telegdi
Other post(s)Provost of Esztergom
Bishop of Nyitra
Bishop of Zagreb
Archbishop of Kalocsa
Personal details
Diedc. November 1366
DenominationRoman Catholic

Ancestry and early lifeEdit

His origin is uncertain; it is possible he was born into a serf family, which originated from Bars County. His father was a certain Clement.[1] He had a brother Lawrence and a sister, Elizabeth. Early ecclesiastical scholars – church historians Ferenc Kollányi, Árpád Bossányi and genealogist Mór Wertner – identified him as a member of the Frankói family and called him with the surname "de Franko" or "Frankói".[2] Nicholas' first biographer Antal Pór, however, proved that he had no kinship relationship with the noble family. Instead, he suggested the "Keszei" surname, because Judge royal Thomas Szécsényi donated the land of Kesző or Keszi (Garamkeszi; present-day Hronské Kosihy, Slovakia) to him in August 1351, which act was confirmed by Louis I of Hungary in February 1365. Mór Wertner objected to Pór's arbitrary name selection, and, also revising his earlier position, suggested the "Lévai" family name, because the prelate's two nephews appeared with the "de Lewa" suffix. Despite this, the name of Keszei has spread in historical literature. Modern historians – including Kornél Szovák, Pál Engel and Enikő Csukovits – began to use the "Apáti" family name.[3]

According to the above-mentioned donation letter of Thomas Szécsényi, Apáti served faithfully first Charles I, then his son Louis I.[3] The latter king stated in his confirmation charter that Apáti was in the service of the royal court "since almost his childhood". As a result, theologian József Udvardy considered Apáti, in fact, came from the lower nobility.[2] His biographer Antal Pór wrote, Apáti began his career at the royal chancellery. It is plausible that he did not attend a foreign universitas, because Pope Clement VI did not mention his academic skills during his appointment as Bishop of Zagreb. However, he gained useful practical and administrative experience over the years he spent in the royal court.[3] He was referred to as parson of Szőlős, then a member of the collegiate chapter of Zagreb.[1]

Early careerEdit

By early 1349, Apáti elevated into the position grand provost of Esztergom.[2] Subsequently, he was made Bishop of Nyitra (present-day Nitra, Slovakia) by 18 May 1349, but soon he was replaced by Stephen Frankói still in that year.[4] Meanwhile, Apáti also served as head (count) of the royal chapel (Latin: comes capellae regiae) from 1349 to 1351.[5] In this quality, he supervised the convent of the royal chaplains, guarded the royal relic treasures and exercised jurisdiction over those servant laymen, who secured the liturgical activity of the court clergy. He also served as keeper of the royal seal and director of the place of authentication in the royal court beside that.[3] Apáti was transferred to the Diocese of Zagreb on 11 January 1350 by Pope Clement.[6] Apáti escorted Louis I, when the Hungarian monarch departed for his second Neapolitan campaign in April 1350. After the fall of Aversa to Hungarian troops on 3 August, Apáti was consecrated as bishop in the town. The Hungarian troops, including Apáti, arrived in Buda on 25 October 1350.[2]

Apáti actively participated in the last phase of the conversion of the pagan Cumans, who had settled in Hungary a century before, which was completed during the reign of Louis.[2] Apáti was made vice-chancellor in the second half of 1351, following the death of the long-time office-holder Thatamerius.[7] Louis I held a Diet around the same time, in late 1351. As vice-chancellor, Apáti was draftsman of that law (later called ius aviticum), which confirmed all provisions of the Golden Bull of 1222, save the one that authorized childless noblemen to freely will their estates. The law introduced an entail system, which existed until the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, prescribing that childless noblemen's landed property "should descend to their brothers, cousins and kinsmen".[8] His family was granted the land Kesző for Apáti's legislative role during the diet. However, Nicholas Vásári, the Archbishop of Esztergom objected against the king's decision, which resulted a lawsuit between the two prelates. Soon, Vásári acknowledged the rightful donation of the possession.[8] Apáti was considered a faithful confidant of Louis. The Hungarian monarch interceded at the Roman Curia in the interest of the bishop on 1 July 1352, when requested Pope Clement to authorize confessional grace and absolution in certain cases to the Diocese of Zagreb. Apáti also received permission from the papal court to freely donate each two benefices within the chapters of Zagreb and Čazma (Csázma) Upon the intervention of Louis, Apáti's nephews were also able to become canons of the collegiate chapter of Zagreb.[8] Apáti successfully recovered the fortress of Medvedgrad for his diocese in February 1352, but it proved to be a short-lived growth. The royal chronicler John of Küküllő started his career under the guidance of Apáti in the early 1350s. John led Apáti's episcopal chancellery since 1353.[8]

Archbishop of KalocsaEdit

Nicholas Apáti was transferred to the dignity of Archbishop of Kalocsa on 4 August 1356, ending a one-year period of vacancy.[9] He sent John, son of Nicholas, the archdeacon of Syrmia to Avignon for his pallium in October.[2] In that year, Louis invaded Venetian territories without a formal declaration of war, he also laid siege to Treviso on 27 July. Apáti also resided in the province with his military unit. Pope Innocent VI strongly opposed the war and urged the Venetians to make a peace with Hungary. He sent Bongiovanni de Campello, the Bishop of Fermo to mediate between the two sides. Louis I commissioned Apáti to represent his interests in the armistice negotiations. The Republic of Venice proposed "uti possidetis", but the Hungarians demanded the recovery of Zadar. The papal envoy traveled to Venice to make an agreement with the Signoria, and asked Apáti to wait for his answer in Sacile. The negotiations took longer than expected, and Apáti reported, his money ran out to further finance his banderium in the Italian province. Apáti left Sacile and he was replaced as chief negotiator by Nicolaus of Luxemburg, the Patriarch of Aquileia. Pope Innocent made Louis the "standard-bearer of the Church" and granted him a three-year tithe to fight against Francesco II Ordelaffi and other rebellious lords in the Papal States. The pope called Apáti and his suffragans to provide their ecclesiastical benefices and taxes to finance his military goals.[10]

Returning home, Apáti was created chancellor of the royal court around November 1356, holding that position until his death.[11] According to historian Imre Szentpétery, Apáti adopted the title, which indicated a more influential and worthy dignity, but in fact, continued the same work as his years as vice-chancellor of the royal court. Since the late 13th century, the vice-chancellors were considered de facto managers of the chancellery, while the office of chancellor depreciated into an honorary title. Apáti, when he was appointed Archbishop of Kalocsa, restored the old function of the chancellor during his term of office (since the early 13th century, the office was usually held by the archbishops of Kalocsa).[10] According to Bernát L. Kumorovitz, the chancellery consisted of several departments by the reign of Louis I. When Apáti elevated into the archbishopric, the office of vice-chancellor became a degrading title for him, which would have been suggest a setback among the office-holders in the royal court.[12]

Apáti again visited Avignon in the early 1357, where he spent the following months until August. He paid his appointment fee at the papal court, furthermore he arranged the debt of his predecessor Denis Lackfi.[12] Because of his role of adviser and councilor in the royal court, Apáti rarely stayed in his archdiocese in the following years. He had no auxiliary bishops, who could substitute for him in Kalocsa, so he requested that the pope authorize him to consecrate priests and celebrate mass in the whole territory of the kingdom. Pope Innocent approved these privileges for Apáti on 26 July 1357, but limited his authority within the borders of the Archdiocese of Kalocsa to avoid conflicts of jurisdiction with other prelates in Hungary. In the same document, the pope also granted four or five years of indulgence for those penitents, who went on a pilgrimage to the Assumption Cathedral of Kalocsa, which building, a "poor and formless church" has been neglected in recent decades.[13] Apáti also requested his superior to authorize his pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre with a forty-member escort. However, Apáti never visited the Holy Land.[12] Due to the contribution of the pope, Apáti successfully recovered the archbishopric's lands in Hont and Gömör counties in August 1357, which were exchanged by one of his predecessors, Ladislaus Jánki in the occasion of a disadvantageous contract with Thomas Szécsényi in 1334.[13] A supplication also contains information on Apáti's health condition: because of his physical weakness and the poor digestive system of his stomach, he requested the pope to receive exemption from that Hungarian tradition during fasting, when practices the faithful abstain from eating eggs, milk and any dairy or animal products. Pope Innocent told that Apáti should have been act on the advice of his court physician.[12]

Archbishop of EsztergomEdit

Nicholas Vásári, the Archbishop of Esztergom died in the middle of 1358. Apáti was nominated as his successor at least since 23 August.[14] As Archbishop of Kalocsa, he was replaced by Thomas Telegdi on 25 August.[9] On 21 September 1358, Apáti, as postulated Archbishop of Esztergom, presided the investigate court over the charges of disloyalty and betrayal against John, the lector of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bosnia. When relations between Tvrtko I of Bosnia and Louis I worsened, Bishop Peter Siklósi took Louis's side. He actively supported the calls for a new crusade against Bosnia, earning him Tvrtko's hostility. The Ban even attempted to plot against him, corresponding to that end with John in Đakovo. Peter discovered the letters and had the lector imprisoned. Apáti summoned a trial to Bács (present-day Bač, Serbia), also attended by some Hungarian prelates and other secular lords. During the process, John acknowledged his guilt and pledged loyalty to Louis I.[15] Pope Innocent transferred Apáti to the Archdiocese of Esztergom on 8 October 1358.[16]

King Louis I's first seal, infamously stolen from Nicholas Apáti's tent during the campaign against Bosnia

Immediately after his appointment, he held a national synod in Esztergom in the beginning of 1359. There he demanded the presence of the provost of Székesfehérvár, who had to acknowledge the supremacy of the Archdiocese of Esztergom upon the instruction of Pope Innocent.[17] Apáti visited the papal court at Avignon in the first half of 1359. There Pope Innocent authorized him to inaugurate the prelates in the Kingdom of Hungary. The historian John of Küküllő became a member of the cathedral chapter and Apáti's vicar in Esztergom. Sometime in the following years, he was referred as "lord chancellor" by royal documents, for instance in June 1364, July 1365 and July 1366. However, there is no consistency in the denomination of the various offices in the royal court, thus this title possibly reflects to only Apáti's powerful position in the royal court.[17] Historian Pál Engel considered the Hungarian cardinal, Demetrius as the first Lord Chancellor of Hungary, adopting the title in 1377.[11]

The archbishop participated in the military campaign against Tvrtko, when Louis invaded Bosnia from two directions in the spring of 1363. An army under the command of Palatine Nicholas Kont and Archbishop Nicholas Apáti laid siege to Srebrenica, but the fortress did not surrender.[18] Apáti took the royal seal to his military camp, which was stolen during the siege by his servants and sold it to a goldsmith, who resided in Beszterce (present-day Bistrița, Romania). A new seal was made and all Louis's former charters were to be confirmed with the new seal, which was guarded by Apáti too.[17] The army under Louis's personal command besieged Sokolac in July, but could not capture it. Hungarian troops returned to Hungary in the same month. Meanwhile, Pope Urban V proclaimed a crusade against the Muslim powers of the Mediterraneum upon Peter I of Cyprus's request on 31 March 1363. He levied a three-year tithe on the church revenues in Hungary and asked Louis to support the papal officials to collect the tax. However, Louis I and Palatine Kont made every effort to hinder the activities of the papal tax collectors, stating that he needed resources to cover the costs of his future wars against the infidels and the pope's enemies in Italy. Therefore, Pope Urban urged Apáti to overpersuade his king to withdraw his decision and support the crusade. Apáti was not enthusiastic and tried to prolong the execution of the command, therefore the Holy See expressed its displeasure towards him.[17] Nicholas Apáti died in the period between 20 November and 2 December 1266.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Markó 2006, p. 301.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Udvardy 1991, p. 221.
  3. ^ a b c d Hegedűs 2003, p. 175.
  4. ^ Engel 1996, p. 72.
  5. ^ Engel 1996, p. 91.
  6. ^ Engel 1996, p. 79.
  7. ^ Engel 1996, p. 90.
  8. ^ a b c d Hegedűs 2003, p. 176.
  9. ^ a b Engel 1996, p. 65.
  10. ^ a b Udvardy 1991, p. 222.
  11. ^ a b Engel 1996, p. 89.
  12. ^ a b c d Hegedűs 2003, p. 177.
  13. ^ a b Udvardy 1991, p. 223.
  14. ^ Engel 1996, p. 63.
  15. ^ Udvardy 1991, p. 224.
  16. ^ Engel 1996, p. 64.
  17. ^ a b c d Hegedűs 2003, p. 178.
  18. ^ Markó 2006, p. 302.


  • Dobronić, Lelja (1995). "Nikola I. [Nicholas I]". In Franko, Mirošević (ed.). Zagrebački biskupi i nadbiskupi [Bishops and Archbishops of Zagreb] (in Croatian). Školska knjiga. pp. 123–126. ISBN 953-0-60597-8.
  • Engel, Pál (1996). Magyarország világi archontológiája, 1301–1457, I. [Secular Archontology of Hungary, 1301–1457, Volume I] (in Hungarian). História, MTA Történettudományi Intézete. ISBN 963-8312-44-0.
  • Hegedűs, András (2003). "V. Miklós [Nicholas V]". In Beke, Margit (ed.). Esztergomi érsekek 1001–2003 [Archbishops of Esztergom 1001–2003] (in Hungarian). Szent István Társulat. pp. 175–179. ISBN 963-361-472-4.
  • Markó, László (2006). A magyar állam főméltóságai Szent Istvántól napjainkig: Életrajzi Lexikon [Great Officers of State in Hungary from King Saint Stephen to Our Days: A Biographical Encyclopedia] (in Hungarian). Helikon Kiadó. ISBN 963-208-970-7.
  • Udvardy, József (1991). A kalocsai érsekek életrajza (1000–1526) [Biographies of Archbishops of Kalocsa, 1000–1526] (in Hungarian). Görres Gesellschaft.

Further readingEdit

  • Pór, Antal (1904). Keszei Miklós 13??–1366 [Nicholas Keszei 13??–1366] (in Hungarian). Magyar Történelmi Életrajzok, Hungarian Historical Society.
Political offices
Preceded by Head of the royal chapel
Succeeded by
Preceded by Vice-chancellor
Preceded by Chancellor
Succeeded by
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by Bishop of Nyitra
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Denis Lackfi
Bishop of Zagreb
Succeeded by
Stephen Kanizsai
Archbishop of Kalocsa
Succeeded by
Preceded by Archbishop of Esztergom